NEW DELHI: Taking note of issues of distress and mental health faced by members of the transgender community during the Covid-19 pandemic, the ministry of social justice and empowerment has launched a free helpline for providing physiological support and counselling to them.
According to officials, the helpline (8882133897), which was launched on Friday, aims to provide the first line of counselling by professional psychologists. This helpline will be functional from Monday to Saturday between 11 am and 1 pm, and 3pm and 5 pm. A similar helpline was set up for the community to seek psychological support during the first wave of the pandemic and it was later wound up after distress calls declined.
The ministry has also decided to provide a one-time subsistence allowance of Rs 1500 to each transgender person as immediate support to meet their basic daily requirements. Members of the community can apply till May 31 for this direct benefit transfer.
The ministry had provided similar financial assistance during the lockdown last year. To assist cases where the transgender community members did not have documents to apply for the allowance, the ministry shared the database with the districts concerned.
Officials said NGOs and community-based organisations working for transgender persons have been asked to spread awareness about this step. There is no income criteria for availing this allowance. As per the procedure, any transgender person can apply for financial assistance after providing basic details like Aadhaar and bank account numbers in a form put up on the website of the National Institute of Social Defence.
The ministry has also written to the principal secretaries of all states to ensure that there is no discrimination against transgender persons in existing Covid and vaccination centres.
“It is requested to open separate vaccination camps or mobile booths for vaccination of the transgender community, on the lines of some states, such as Haryana & Assam. These separate camps or booths can help the members of the community come out for vaccination without any fear and stigma,” it stated in a letter.